Here is an update of our India tour. Yesterday was a day full of jinx. At one point of time we were wondering how worse can it get.
On the way to Benapole, our companion family's child got sick from food poisoning and vomited in the car. We had to stop for cleaning and then on the border it turned out the customs superintendent, who was supposed to give approval for enlisting the carnet de passage (permission to take the car across border) was not in the office. We were told that he will be coming but after half an hour it became clear that he is managing office from somewhere else and will not be coming anytime soon. It took a lot of effort including talking help of connections to make it happen without him. That contributed to further delays.
Passing through Bangladesh customs was easy, And in Indian side, because of our car they did not bother much about luggage. They did make us open the bonnet and check Engine nos etc.
And then it happened. The engine of the Landrover of our friend just died after driving through India for about half kilometer. We checked the fuses. double-checked the connections but the Engine did not start. We started panicking when we heard that there is no repair shops nearby. After a while we realized that this was not getting us anywhere and someone suggested that we tow the car to a nearby village of Bongaon (no break-down insurance available in these parts). A taxi helped us in towing which was a hard effort in dense traffic situations.
The mechanic told us that its a time-belt related trouble and he will need time to find out what happened. We, two families with three kids were stranded at that point with no food and toilet facilities. There were no decent eateries within one mile radius. After we pressed the mechanic to give us a decision, he declared he cannot fix this, mainly because parts are rare and even he finds the problem it will not be possible to get parts in the vicinity.
So we decided to leave the car there and carry on with a rented car. Finally we came to Kolkata in the night and half day was spoiled.
Today it was a busy day for us in Kolkata. My daughter kept asking whether we are in India because she found no difference with the traffic situation of Dhaka and Kolkata. The forrnar capital of British India (1858-1912) has changed much - highrises, bypasses more cars. But did it keep its glory?
Bengalis are not a rule based society traditionally. But I see that there are much efforts from government to instill rules. We were told that we cannot take luggage on the roof of a car, the driver of our rented car forced us to open all the windows in dusty conditions because he has tinted glass (which is said to be illegal). The taxis wont take extra person. You have to submit loads of documents including hotel receipts for a mobile SIM card - etc. But don't get fooled thinking these rules are being installed in the society. You can take extra person in taxi paying loads of extra.
And then there is the pathetic customer service. Here is a snippet of conversation with the person at reception desk of our accomodation.
Reception: Please right down all the 500 rupee notes in a paper and provide you name and telephone no.
Me: Thats so many, why I need to do that?
Reception: Because this is our rule.
Me: But why?
Reception: There are fake notes.
Me: Yes. But its your job to verify that and if anything needs to be written why I should be bothered. Its late and I don't wanna waste my time. Please excuse me.
Reception: Then I won't sign the gatepass. You wont be able to leave.
Me; Thats so rude. Moreover our passport details are with you. Why I should submit contacts again?
Reception: Its our rule. If you don't like it don't stay here.
Then reluctantly I wrote all the note numbers and provided my Bangladesh number to see what his his reaction. He did not say anything and that reminds me that they follow the rule blindly without thinking what are the implications.
From all these rules the human elements, the care about customers are missing. I don't know why, but Kolkata seems to be lacking these aspects.
Tomorrow we leave for Jaipur.. See you there.
And we will do this differently this time. One of our family friends has prior experience of traveling to India by car and the family has joined us. We have decided that we will do it the adventurous way.
|Image from Flickr courtesy Rainer Ebert|
But the process of getting a permission to take your car to India and bring it back without paying duty is fairly easy if you know how.
You will need an International Driver’s Licence to travel to India (which is virtually surrounding Bangladesh). To take your vehicle across the border you need a carnet de passage en douane. It is a document from the motoring organisation in the country in which the vehicle is registered, which says you will not sell the vehicle abroad without paying import duties.
In Bangladesh this permission is dealt by the Automobile Association of Bangladesh (AAB) [contact information here]. We had to give a bank guarantee of an assumed value of the car in favor of AAB, paid a permit charge of BDT 10,000/- (roughly $130) and the International Driving License Fee - BDT 2,500 (valid for one year) which is issued against your existing valid driving license. The whole process takes around 10 days.
The Indian Visa process has become very complicated due to their new online system which is unable to handle loads of requests. We managed to complete all the formalities after a lot of drama (but will save it for a later rant).
Those of you who have experience of travelling to India by air and by road knows that there is a clear discrimination in the ways immigration and customs are handled in both sides of the borders. I always tell my acquaintances to avoid the road borders because it involves lots of delays, harassment etc. But you never know things may have changed in the recent years. So I will be posting updates about our journey and hope that I will not be put under stress during travel.
Bangladeshis were shocked by widely published photographs of the dead body of a 15 year old Bangladeshi girl hanging on the India-Bangladesh border Fence. According to news reports the girl named Felani was shot dead by the Indian Border Security Force (BSF) at Anantapur while she was illegally crossing the border with her father while traveling back to Bangladesh.
Mahmud Faisal elaborates how the girl was caught in this tragic fate:
বাবা কাঁটাতার পেরিয়ে চলে এলেন, ফেলানীর কাপড় আঁটকে গেলে সে ভয়ে চিৎকার করে ওঠে– সাথে সাথে গর্জে ওঠে বিএসএফ-এর বন্দুক। একটা গুলি ফেলানীর পিছন থেকে ঢুকে সামনে দিয়ে বেরিয়ে যায়। তবু সে বেঁচে ছিলো। বি,এস,এফ চাইলেই তো ঐ ৪ ঘন্টা’র মাঝে কিশোরীটিকে আরো কয়েকবার গুলি করে হত্যা নিশ্চিত করতে পারতো। তা না করে তারা ৪ ঘন্টা অপেক্ষার পর যখন মেয়েটি’র গোঙ্গানী বন্ধ ও দেহ নিথর হয়েছে বলে নিশ্চিত হয় তখন এসে লাশ নিয়ে যায়। কাঁটাতারে গুলিবিদ্ধ অবস্থায় ঝুলে থেকে ফেলানী “পানি পানি” বলে চিৎকার করছিলো। সাড়া দেয়ার কেউ ছিলো না। তিরিশ ঘন্টা পর তার লাশ এলো যেভাবে মরা গরুকে ঝুলিয়ে আনা হয়।
Her father managed to cross the barbed wire, but Felani's clothes got stuck in the wire and she started screaming in fear. Noticing her BSF shot instantaneously and a bullet went through her body. But she did not die. If BSF wanted it could end her misery by putting more bullets into her. But they waited four hours to be sure that she stopped screaming and she is dead. She was screaming "water, water" while she was hanging in the barbed wire, hurt. Nobody listened to her and BSF finally took away her dead body. After 30 hours she was brought back to Bangladesh like hanging a dead cow (in a bamboo poll).
Indian Border Security Force And barbed Wire. Image by Sanjeev Syal. Copyright Demotix
In a recently published 81-page report titled, "‘Trigger Happy': Excessive Use of Force by Indian Troops at the Bangladesh Border," Human Rights Watch found numerous cases of indiscriminate use of force, arbitrary detention, torture, and killings by the Indian Border Security Force, without adequate investigation or punishment.
"The border force seems to be out of control, with orders to shoot any suspect," said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "The border operations ignore the most basic rule of law, the presumption of innocence."
Bangladeshi human rights organization Odhikar says in a report that BSF kills one Bangladeshi in every four days. It also says that BSF killed 74 innocent Bangladeshi citizens in 2010, injured seventy-two and kidnapped 43. In the past decade more than 1000 Bangladeshis were killed in the border regions by BSF.
Alfaz Anam says:
শনিবারের নয়াদিগন্তের ছবিতে দেখা যাচ্ছে লাল পায়জামা পড়া ফেলানির ছোট্র শরীরটা ঝুলছে বাংলাদেশ-ভারত সীমান্তে কাটাতারের বেড়ায়। যেনো একখন্ড বাংলাদেশ ঝুলে আছে। কেন ফেলানিকে হত্যা করা হলো? [..]
বাংলাদেশ নামক এই রাষ্ট্রের নাগরিকদের প্রতি অপরিসীম ঘৃনার মনস্তত্ব থেকে গুলির নিশানা হচ্ছে বাংলাদেশের নাগরিকরা। ফেলানিকে সহজেই বিএসএফ ধরে ফেলতে পারতো। নিতে পারতো আইনগত ব্যবস্থা। কিন্তু তা তারা করেনি। কারণ ফেলানি বাংলাদেশের নাগরিক। হত্যায় ওর উপযুক্ত শাস্তি।
In Saturday's Naya Diganta (Bangla News Daily) we see a photograph of the body of little Felani in red cloth hanging on the barbed wire of India-Bangladesh border. Seems like a piece of Bangladesh hanging. Why was she killed? [..]
Bangladeshi citizens are being subjected to this inhuman atrocity out of extreme hatred towards them. BSF could easily arrest Felani and take necessary legal measures. But they did not as she is a Bangladeshi. Death is her ultimate punishment.
এভাবে প্রতিনিয়ত মারা যাচ্ছে পারুল আর ফেলানিরা। কিন্তু খুব কম সময়ই এরা খবর হন। পারুল আর ফেলানিদের জীবনের কোনো নিরাপত্তা নেই। নতুন বছরের প্রথম সপ্তাহেই হত্যা করা হয়েছে ৬ জন বাংলাদেশীকে। [..] ভারতের সাথে শত্রুরাষ্ট্র পাকিস্তানের সীমান্ত আছে। কাশ্মীরে ভারতীয় বাহিনীর সাথে নিয়মিত গোলা বিনিময় হয় কিন্তু এভাবে নিরীহ মানুষ নিহত হয় না। আজকে পাকিস্তানের চেয়ে বাংলাদেশের নিরস্ত্র মানুষ যেনো ভারতের প্রধান শত্রু।
In this way Parul (another 13 year old civilian Bangladeshi girl killed in 2009 by BSF) and Felanis die everyday. These are not highlighted in the news prominently. They do not have any security. Six Bangladeshis were killed in the first week of new year (2011). [..] India has also borders with alleged enemy state Pakistan. In Kashmir there are regular shootouts between border guard. But no civilian is killed like this. It seems that unarmed Bangladeshis are greater enemy than Pakistan to the Indian guards.
Rahnuma Ahmed highlights in a post titled "Killing Thy Neighbors" why despite all these threats people cross border between Bangladesh and India legally and illegally:
The fence divides and separates. Villages. Agricultural lands. Markets. Families. Communities. It cuts across mangrove-swamps in the southwest, forests and mountains in the northeast.
It split up Fazlur Rehman’s family too, the fence snaked into their Panidhar village homestead, his younger brother who lived right next door, is now in another country (Time, February 5, 2009). Other border residents have had their homes split in two, the kitchen in one country, the bedroom in another.
Banner of the Blog Platform Amar Bornomala
Netizens are also frustrated with feeble government response. Helal M Rahman at Blog Platform Amar Bornomala complains:
এতসব হত্যাকান্ডের পরেও আমাদের রাষ্টযন্ত্রের সবোর্চ্চ পর্যায়ের কোন মাথাব্যথা বা হত্যাকান্ড বন্ধের কোন পদক্ষেপ নিতে দেখা যাচ্ছেনা।
After all these incidents the highest authorities of the government remain silent and they are not doing anything to stop these indiscriminate killings.
Blogger Arif Jebtik writes [bn]:
দিন আগের মতোই চলতে থাকবে। কিছুই বদলাবে না। ভারতের ঋণে আমার রাষ্ট্রে একটা বড় রাস্তা হবে। সেই রাস্তা দিয়ে আসবে যাবে বন্ধুরাষ্ট্রের গাড়িগুলো। আমরা অতিথিপরায়ণ সভ্য জাতি, কোনো দিন তাদের দিকে গুলি ছুড়তে যাব না। চিকন চালে ধোঁয়াওঠা ভাত আর ইলিশ মাছের ঝোল দিয়ে আমরা অতিথি আপ্যায়ন করব।
তৃপ্তির ঢেকুর তুলতে তুলতে বউয়ের জন্য জামদানি শাড়ি ব্যাগে পুরে বিএসএফপ্রধান আমাদের শান্তি আর বন্ধুত্বের বাণী শোনাবেন।
আমরা মোবাইলের এসএমএসে জানব ও বন্ধুদের জানাব, তিন কোটি টাকায় নিলামে বিক্রি হয়েছেন ক্যাপ্টেন সাকিব হাসান। হিন্দি চ্যানেলের সিরিয়াল দেখে আমাদের গিন্নীরা হাঁপুস নয়নে কাঁদতে থাকবেন।
কিন্তু সীমান্তের পাখির মতো মরে যাওয়া আমার বোন ফেলানির জন্য আমরা কেউ কখনো কাঁদব না।
আমরা শুধু তোতাপাখির মতো স্লোগান দিয়ে যাব, ভারত-বাংলাদেশ মৈত্রী_জয় হো!
This will continue to happen. Nothing will change. A long highway will be built with loans from India. Cars from neighboring states will roll into Bangladesh on that highway. We are civilized hosts, we will never treat them with bullets rather with steamed fine rice and Hilsha fish curry.
The BSF chief will continue to preach about peace and friendship after bagging Jamdani Sari as gifts for his wife.
Via SMS we will merrily spread the information that the Bangladesh cricket captain Shakib Al Hasan has been sold in auction of the Indian Premier League for 30 million Taka ($425000). Our housewives will continue to watch Indian TV serials and shed their tears during tragic scenes.
But we will never shed tears for our sister who was butchered in the border inhumanely.
We will just utter the magic words like parrots, long live India-Bangladesh friendship.
First published in Global Voices Online
The Himalayan River Basins (Ganges, Bramhaputra, Indus, Yangtze) in China, Nepal, India and Bangladesh are inhabited by around 1.3 billion people. Yes, we are talking about almost 20% of the world’s population and almost 50% of the total population of these countries. These rivers were the lifelines of the ancient civilizations formed in this region. And these civilizations of present day are under threat.
In a recent report by Strategic Foresight Group, a Mumbai-based think tank, titled "The Himalayan Challenge - Water Security in Emerging Asia" some alarming statistics were presented. In the next two decades, the four countries in the Himalayan sub-region will face the depletion of almost 275 billion cubic meters (BCM) of annual renewable water, more than the total amount of water available in Nepal in present day.
Water availability is estimated to decline in 2030 comparing to present level by 13.50% in case of China, by 28% in case of India, by 22% in case of Bangladesh and by 35% in case of Nepal. The factors contributing to this decline are:
- About 10% to 20% of the Himalayan Rivers are fed by Himalayan Glaciers and studies say 70% of these glaciers will be melted by the next century as a result of accelerating global climate change.
- Glacial melting will eventually reduce river flow in the low season and increase in temperature in some areas leading to deforestation.
- Disappearance of thousands of lakes.
- Depletion of water resources due to pollution and natural reasons
- The reduced riverflow induces more deposit of silt in river bed narrows the depth of river thus causing flooding.
- The agricultural sector is the major consumer of fresh water. However this sector will be using less water due to non-availability of water leading to less productivity.
- The cumulative effect of water scarcity, glacial melting, disruptive precipitation patterns, flooding, desertification, pollution, and soil erosion will be a massive reduction in the production of rice, wheat, maize and fish.
India vs. China:
The 2,900 km long Brahmaputra River flows through China, India, and Bangladesh, and its watershed includes Nepal, Bhutan, and Burma as well. In 2000, India accused China of not sharing flood data of the flows of Brahmaputra River through the Chinese territory. This resulted in widespread devastation and floods in India killing many people. In 2002 a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the countries to coordinate water related data sharing.
In early 2003, China conducted a feasibility study for a major hydropower project along the China section of the Brahmaputra River. This project was supposed to divert 200 billion cubic meters of water annually to the Yellow River. This would result in 60% reduction of water flow downstream in India and Bangladesh. In 2006, the Chinese government denied the existence of the plan however this remained a reason for the strained relationship between the two countries. However it was found later that China was building a dam on Brahmaputra.
In April 2010, China assured that the dam on river Brahmaputra will have no impact on the downstream flow of the river into India Bangladesh.
India vs. Bangladesh:
The Indian government has plans to get India’s 37 major river interlinked by 2016 implementing its interlinking of rivers (ILR) project. 25 new dams are planned for the Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers. According to experts the impacts of the ILR on Bangladesh will be the function of many variables, including the alteration of hydrology, river dynamics, ecosystem changes, agricultural productivity, intrusion of salinity and public health. The reason for dispute between both the countries is that Bangladesh have not been officially notified of plans for the ILR project.
India vs. Pakistan:
Pakistan is worried about six rivers (Indus, Chenab, Jhelum, Sutlej, Beas, and Ravi) that flow into Pakistan through northern India, including the disputed state of Jammu & Kashmir and the state of Punjab. Their disagreements lead to the 1960 Indus Water Treaty, which has come under an increasing strain in recent days. India completed a hydroelectric power project on the Chenab River in the Doda district of Jammu & Kashmir by building a dam on 2008. Pakistan is wary of facts that the shortage of flow of water in rivers could cause rapid desertification.
Water issues are not only raising the political temperature between countries but also between states within a country like the river Kaveri is the reason for serious contention between Tamil Nadu and neighbouring Karnataka states.
One thing is for sure if India and China race for building dams to control flow of river within their boundaries without consulting their downstream neighbors then the situation will be volatile leading to unnecessary confrontation and war. The threats cannot be addressed by the unilateral efforts of nations, only regional cooperation can mitigate such tensions.
The Dhaka Declaration on Water Security has proposed an expert committee to prepare a road map for data-sharing and scientific exchange and to prepare guidelines for introducing transparency regarding relevant data.The declaration urges "greater political commitment and data exchange among Himalaya basin countries for collective approaches to the region's water challenges".
Dialogues between the citizens of the countries concerned are needed so that unnecessary escalations can be avoided.The region has to commit to agreements like the Dhaka declaration so that a Regional Information Sharing Network on water resources can be achieved.
(Also published in Future Challenges)
The game of cricket is now almost a religion to the Indians. The glorious era of Indian cricket started from its 1983 world cup win. Other popular games like hockey and football lost their popularity and cricket become a widely loved and followed sport in the country. In 2007 India became the world champion of the shorter version of the game - Twenty20 cricket. The result of this victory prompted Indians to take a great interest in this format of the game. India pushed Twenty20 cricket to next level by organizing a domestic tournament containing international stars called The Indian Premier League (IPL), which was initiated by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and supervised by BCCI Vice President Lalit Modi, Chairman & Commissioner for IPL.
The tournament started in 2008 in India but in 2009 the venue of the 2nd season was shifted to South Africa for security reasons. In 2010 IPL has come back to India and the 3rd season was inaugurated today with a spectacular opening ceremony.
Indian bloggers have been abuzz about this extravaganza much before the tournament as it created a number of controversies with incidents like ignoring Pakistani cricketers in its first auction and irking the media people. Many Netizens were eagerly waiting for the tournament.
Kunal Mudgal at Just a slice of life writes:
Its time for the madness to begin!!
IPL is back in its 3rd season. Its bigger, better and now back in India. This year will be the true test of this carnival on whether it can sustain itself in this format.
When IPL started out, it was a unique concept in India. But in essence, it was trying to recreate the fanaticism found in football leagues across Europe.
Greatbong at Random Thoughts of a Demented Mind weighs on the entertainment part the tournament offers and asks:
Will all this be worth the Rs 1200 I will shell out for my ticket—-around the same price one would pay, once upton a time, to watch 5 days of Test cricket?
Shubhashish is at the stadium to watch the opening ceremony and the first match between Kolkata Knight Riders and Deccan Chargers. He posts this picture at Twitpick.
Abhinav notes the IPL craze in India:
TV, Internet, Newspapers… Every medium is flooding with DLF IPL, a private event; that above all, explains the success of Indian Premier League. For a private event, entire media is fighting to give free of cost coverage! Strange, but Interesting!
The bloggers lists the marketing and branding strategies which have worked in favour of IPL to hype this craze. To highlight a few:
- “Packaging of the Event” from day 1 as entertainment is the biggest strategic hit. Cricket just happens to be there!
- To keep it focussed in 20 overs and inviting International players, not only enhanced the entertainment value but also factored in the fastest growing segment of high income youth.
- Attracting the movie stars like Shah Rukh Khan, Preity Zinta and Shilpa Shetty along with highly placed industrialist as team owners, ensured ample media and public interest which further contributed to the success of the event.
Prem Panicker at Smoke Signals sheds a light on IPL auction’s bidding process and the various pros and cons of the process.
JS tells everybody to enjoy IPL shunning all controversies:
Nothing other than the ODI and T20 World Cups, not even the Champions Trophy, has maintained the anticipation levels as high as the Modi juggernaut called the Indian Premier League (IPL). And if we may take the liberty, even the ODI World Cup has its interest dwindling since the last couple of editions, albeit ever so slightly.
But it’s not the time to ponder anything else; rather just grab a drink, dig into your couch and get immersed into the IPL. It’s that time in the cricketing calendar when all the soaps take a backseat and the desperate housewives either get remote-controlled or join the gang.
WATBlog reports that YouTube is promoting IPL by showing all 60 matches live via its official IPL channel and it has already bagged 200 million Indian Rupees (4.4 million USD) from sponsorships.
Yesterday at the digital media awards night I was part of a discussion with a couple of agency folks who updated me that Youtube was doing exceedingly well when it came to sponsorship monies. One of them stated that Youtube had garnered 20 crores worth of sponsorship for the entire IPL series with individual sponsorship amounts from some sponsors going upto 2 crores as well.
This makes youtube more expensive from a cost per reach perspective when you consider the number of viewers TV will reach vs the no of viewers youtube will reach in India. All in all most agency folks said that this was a big win for digital in India and a lesson for all of us in how to sell digital.
Meanwhile, IPL became a trending topic in Twitter today. Here are some of the Twitter reactions especially highlighting the opening ceremony which featured live performance from international rock stars like UB40, ABBA, Lionel Richie etc.
smokeysunny: The Official #IPL Community created by #ORKUT http://www.orkut.co.in/Main#Community?cmm=99087253
seopatel: #IPL #MATCH #CRICKET #MUMBAI are in the latest top 10 trends on twitter. India really uses twitter.. do you?
gynelwazlib: The DY stadium looks so beautiful. Feel uncharacteristically proud right now. One of those chairs is my indirect contribution. #ipl
pradeepto: OMG! An #UFO!!! White floating Ufo sighted at DY Patil stadium. #Aliens with funky fluorescent head-wear walking around the ground! #ipl
cricscoreapplet: #cricket #ipl Bollywood beauty, the sizzling Deepika Padukone is on stage now, sending the crowd into a tizzy with her moves
raknair07: Like always..what a crappy opening ceremony ...how much more do i have to bear this :( #fail #IPL
pranav_marathe: THE LASER SHOW IN #IPL #OPENING #CEREMONY IS ABSOLUTELY STUNNING. DEEPIKA'S PERFORMANCE WAS GOOD.
vedantvarma: Am thrilled with the IPL bashing so far. Sheer bliss. :-) they deserve it #ipl
The Indian blogosphere will continue to be flourished with IPL related stories. There will be regular predictions, analysis and gossip among other things. Amidst all the money, controversy, media hype and entertainment, here is hoping that cricket does not become second fiddle in IPL.
First published in Global Voices Online.
At around 7:30 pm on Saturday (February 13, 2010) a bomb blast at a restaurant popular with tourists in India's western city of Pune killed 9 people and left 57 people injured. The bomb was in a backpack and it exploded when an waiter tried to inspect the left luggage. Shashi Bellamkonda at My Digital Thoughts reports:
A few hours ago (Feb 13th 2010) a bomb went off popular cafe ‘German Bakery” in Pune India. At the time of posting this the press were reporting that 8 people had died and about 40 injured in this blast which left the bodies charred beyond recognition. The bakery is a popular spot with foreign tourists.Shashi has also these observations:
Pragmatic Euphony warns:
- This comes a day after both India and Pakistan agreed to resume talks that had been halted since the Mumbai attacks in 2008. ( 14 months ago )
- David Headley currently in a Chicago jail had visited Pune to surveyed the Osho Ashram near the blast site
- The blast site is near the Pune Chabad house and the Mumbai Chabad House was a target in the 26/11 attacks in 2008.
- The blast area is near the Osho Ashram frequented by tourists another similarity to the Mumbai 2008 blasts.
The jehadis have struck again on the Indian mainland; this time in Pune, albeit more than a year after the horrendous terror attacks on Mumbai in November 2008. The initial response, while going with the most plausible and popular assumption that the blast was the handiwork of Pakistan based jehadi groups, is one of indignation. Perhaps understandably so as tempers are bound to run high. And this emotion is likely to be further amplified as the Indian mainstream media hyperventilates and virtually runs amok with its over the top coverage of the incident.People are already finding links to Pakistan. Offstumped informs that the Pune blast followed a Laskar-e-Taiba threat. A top leader of the Lashkar-e-Taiba named Pune as a target city at a permitted public rally in Pakistan. The Acorn says:
Despite the Lashkar-e-Taiba threat, it is too early to definitively attribute the attack to the Pakistani military-jihadi complex. But it is clear that the Pakistani military-jihadi complex has every reason to escalate tensions with India through the use of terrorism. Without the excuse of “tensions to the east”, Pakistan would have nothing left to explain to Washington its double-dealing on the taliban.Dilip D'Souza at Death Ends Fun reminds that India should also do something about the homegrown terror:
Until we recognize homegrown terror for what it is — no less than anything from abroad — and until we stand against every kind of terror, we will never defeat terrorism.The Twittersphere was abuzz with tweets and retweets spreading the news. Here are some of the reactions:
IndiaHappening: Nine killed, 32 hurt in Pune terror blast http://bit.ly/arLssZ #IndiaNo doubt the blast in Pune will impact the recent goodwill talks between India and Pakistan. But it seems that the terrorists are being given the upper hand as emotions are running high everywhere.
r_shekhawat: Terror strikes at my home - ‘Pune' : Once again, innocent people killed by some mindless terrorists. Pune, a great city, hurt and bruised.
pragmatic_rebel: Must be a sad start to Valentine's day in #Pune! Still aghast at the blasts, I wish #India does something really different this time.
bhuvan_chelsea: We need a vigilante like Batman here in #India . ;-)
tweetSAMRAT: Is praying for the victims of the recent Pune bomb blast.
nehasasi: RT @deepitganjoo: Please RT This Jahangir Hospital Pune Needs Blood AB+ve and B+ve Contact : 1066 Those who are in Pune…. Please
_india_: Pune blast casts shadow on talks with Pak
First published in Global Voices Online.
"Bangladesh are an ordinary side. They can't beat India because they can't take 20 wickets."
This was the remark of Indian cricket captain Virender Sehwag on the eve of the first Test in Chittagong.
Bangladesh coach Jamie Siddons reacted on Sehwag's comment:
"He should stay away from mikes. Every team has good and bad phases. His comments might bite him on his bum in a few years time. It might even hit him in the bum in a week's time. We are definitely not an ordinary side. That's what we are hoping to show in this Test series. We could hopefully prove Sehwag wrong."
It did not take even a day. The Cricinfo headline read: "Bangladesh all over ordinary India." Shakib and Shahadat left India reeling at 213/8 at the end of the days play. Sehwag was obviously absent in the post match press conference.
Recommended read: A bite out of the bum.
"In early December of 2008, Mark Dummett of the BBC reported a wonderful “news of the weird” story from Dhaka, Bangladesh – a life-scale replica of the Taj Mahal, built at enormous expense. Global journalists sprang into action, documenting a diplomatic spat between Bangladesh and India over ownership of this cultural treasure, talking about the shocking idea of “pirating” another nation’s national symbols.- Ethan Zuckerman.
None of these intrepid reporters actually visited the Bengali Taj, though. Bloggers did, and they weren’t impressed. Aparna Ray translated their posts for Global Voices and explained that it was a poorly-made tourist trap clad in bathroom tiles, not the diamond-studded wonder those hardbitten AFP journalists credulously reported on.
A critical underreported story? An important victory for intercultural understanding? Nope. But as someone who spent far too much time the past five years answering journalistic questions about the credibility of bloggers, I can’t but help celebrating this inversion."
(Also Published in Global Voices Online)
Asadul Haque at Haque's Talking describes how this has been a hot debate in Bangladesh recently:
The Tipaimukh dam issue currently continues to dominate the domain of political, media, intellectual and civil society’s discourse in Bangladesh with a unilateral demand for revocation of India’s decision for the project. Massive public protest in different forms i.e. rallies, protest meetings, strikes and so on against the dam continue to gain momentum in Bangladesh.
Zahid at Sachalayatan writes:
বাংলাদেশ আজ একটি ভয়ঙ্কর সমস্যার মুখে পতিত, আমরা এখনো বিষয়টি পরিষ্কার বুঝতে পারছিনা তাই আসল চিন্তা না করে রাজনীতির কাঁদা ছোড়াছুড়ি করে যাচ্ছি। বিষয়টি নিয়ে ব্লগে, সংবাদপত্রে, টিভিতে, জনসভায় আলোচনা হচ্ছে, কুটনৈতিক পর্যায়ে মতানৈক্য চলছে, বিভিন্ন দলের বিশেষজ্ঞদের নাম জানা যাচ্ছে কিন্তু তার পরেও আমরা পনের কোটি মানুষ শান্তিতে ঘুমোচ্ছি। সুনামগঞ্জের হাওড় এলাকার দরিদ্র কৃষকটি, যার সারা বছরের খাবার আর জীবন যাপনের একমাত্র অবলম্বন বোরো ধান, কিংবা দরিদ্র জেলেটি যার খেয়ে পড়ে বেঁচে থাকা নির্ভর করছে বর্ষাকালের হাওড়ের মাছের উপর সেও শান্তিতে ঘুমুচ্ছে কারন সে জানেনা কি ভয়াবহ ভবিষ্যৎ অপেক্ষা করছে তার জন্য। ফাঁরাক্কা ব্যারেজের কারনে আমাদের উত্তাল প্রমত্তা পদ্মা আজ যৌবন হারিয়েছে সেই সাথে ধুকে ধুকে মরছে এর শাখানদীগুলো। ১৯৭৪-৭৫ সালে নির্মিত ফাঁরাক্কা ব্যারেজের ফলে ভারতের একচেটিয়া পানি উত্তোলনকে কেন্দ্র করে একটি চুক্তি করতে কুটনৈতিক আলোচনা গড়িয়েছে ২০ বছর, আর এই সুদীর্ঘ সময়ে আমরা হারিয়েছি আমাদের নদীর নাব্যতা, আমাদের ফসলের জমি হারিয়েছে তার উর্বরতা, লবনাক্ততা এসে গ্রাস করেছে আমাদের অহংকার সুন্দরবনকে, ইবনে বতুতার সবুজ বাংলাদেশের উত্তরাঞ্চল পরিনত হয়েছে শুষ্ক মরুভূমিতে।
Bangladesh is in a big problem. We are still not getting the real picture so are bickering with political motives where we should be thinking about the solution. The issue is being talked about in blogs, newspapers, rallies. Diplomatic efforts are being carried out, we are hearing about many new experts, but most of our 150 million people are still sleeping on it without any worry. The poor farmer near Sunamganj, whose livelihood and nutrition for the whole year is the boro crops, is also sleeping without knowing what future awaits for him. Our mighty Padma river has shrinked because of Farakka Barrage. The barrage was made in 1974-75 and and agreement to protect the the unilateral withdrawal of water by India took 20 years of diplomatic efforts. In the mean time our rivers have lost their depth, our lands have lost fertility, our Sunderbans forest has been engulfed with salinity. The green Bangladesh as named by Ibn Battuta has become almost like a desert.
The protests have already spread in Internet. More than 80 Facebook groups have been opened, which includes: :: Stop Tipaimukh Dam ::, Protest Against ‘Tipaimukh Dam', Tipaimukh Dam & Fulertal Barrage - Lets Stop India, Stop Tipaimukh Dam, Save Our Bangladesh Tipaimukh Dissemination. Dedicated blog sites have been launched to compile and disseminate Tipaimukh dam related news.
সবচেয়ে উলেখযোগ্য যে তথ্যটা পেলাম সেটা হলো টিপাইমুখ ড্যাম সাইট থেকে ৯৫কিঃমিঃ ভাটিতে ফুলেরতালে একটা ব্যারেজ নির্মানের প্রস্তাবনা আছে (যা ভারত সবসময় অস্বীকার করে আসছে)।
The most important information I gathered from the report is that there is also a plan of building a barrage in Fulertal, 95km upstream of the Tipaimukh dam (India has always denied this fact).
The Tipaimukh Dam project may not be harmful to us rather useful if it only consists of a Dam. The problem will arise if India makes Fulertol Barrage along with the Dam. The Barrage can really render this great country into a desert.
The recent comments of the Indian High Commissioner in Bangladesh has caused much uproar in Bangladesh politics, reports An Ordinary Citizen. Indian journalist Subir Bhowmik writes in his blog that hiding of facts are fuelling more controversies. He opines:
If we leave this aside as normal compulsions of domestic politics in Bangladesh, it still falls on India to take a lower-riparian neighbour like Bangladesh into confidence when we plan such huge projects like Tipaimukh.
However, Diganta Sarkar at The New Horizons comments on the EIA and EMP documents that he “hardly finds a ground to accuse (the Indian) Government of hiding anything” as these are available online. He is also satisfied with the mitigation effort and planning to tackle the environmental damages and earthquake threats published in those documents but questions whether all of them will be implemented.
Zahid has already published five posts of his investigative six part series [bn] describing the impact of the dam and barrage refuting the Indian claims that there will be no environmental damage in Bangladesh. (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5). He says:
একজন সাধারণ মানুষও যেখানে জানে যে বাঁধের কিছু না কিছু প্রভাব উজান ভাটিতে থাকে সেখানে একটি বিলিয়ন ডলারের প্রকল্পের Environmental Impact assessment (EIA) এ এর ভাটি অঞ্চলকে প্রায় সম্পূর্ণ ভাবে উপেক্ষা করা কতটা যুক্তিযুক্ত ?
A layman also knows that there are some effects of a dam in the downstream region. But the Environmental Impact assessment (EIA) in this billion dollar project has almost neglected the downstream region.
Indian blogger Biplob Pal says [bn]:
বিদ্যুত অবশ্যই চাই। ভারত এখন শিল্পোন্নত দেশ-সেখানে ঘন্টায় ৪-১০ ঘন্টা গড়ে লোডশেডিং নিশ্চয় কাম্য না। কিন্ত সেটা হিমালয়ের জল সম্পদকে লুন্ঠন করে কোটি কোটি মানুষের জীবিকাকে ধ্বংশ করে কেও নিশ্চয় চাইবে না ।
টিপাইমুখ কোন বিচ্ছিন্ন ঘটনা নয়। হিমালয়ের বুকে এই রকম আরো ১০০ টী জলবিদ্যুত কেন্দ্র তৈরী করার পরিকল্পনা চলছে। আফটার অল, যত বেশী বাঁধ তত বেশী ঠিকাদারি। পকেট ভরবে রাজনীতিবিদদের। দুদিকে লাভ। অর্থাগম ভোটাগম। মাশুল গুনবে ভারত -বাংলাদেশের সাধারন মানুষ।যাদের অধিকাংশই আদিবাসি। নদীই একমাত্র জীবিকা কেন্দ্র।
We want electricity. India is an industrialized country and nobody wants daily power outages of 4-10 hours. But to generate that there is no need to squander the water wealth of The Himalayas and destroy livelihood of millions of people.
Tipaimukh is not an isolated incident. There are plans to build about hundred more such hydro-electric plants. After all, the more dams the more contracts. The politicians will also cash in. The profit is multidimensional: more money, more votes. The price will be paid by the common people of India and Bangladesh. And most of them are indigenous, rivers are their only livelihood.
Jiten Yumnam at Intercultural Resources reminds that this project can spark movements in its Manipur state:
India should refrain from constructing Tipaimukh dam to avoid multidimensional conflicts and complications as the project is potentially rife for causing conflicts between states, between state and indigenous peoples and between indigenous peoples all over control and management of resources and definition of developmental priorities. As Manipur is already rife with movements for right to self determination, any forced construction of Tipaimukh dam with its multifaceted impacts will only legitimize their movement to defend their land and resources.
A 10-member all-party delegation of parliamentarians of Bangladesh is visiting India currently to assess the situation. The Bangladesh government has requested India not to start building the dam without Bangladesh's consent. Muhammad Zamir opines in an Oped at The Daily Star:
What is required today is transparency and political will. One hopes that the visit of our Parliamentary delegation will be followed not only by intensive discussion on the basis of shared data between relevant experts from both countries but also meetings between the two political leaderships. An acceptable equation has to be reached between sovereign rights and national interests.
Different news sources confirms that Shahidul Alam, internationally renowned photojournalist from Bangladesh, blogger, E-Bangladesh author and founder of the Drik picture network has been detained by the Indian border security.
According to David Brewer of Media Helping Media:
In a message to this site from Dhaka, Alam’s partner says he was working on a multimedia project about the Brahmaputra river with two colleagues when border guards took him away.
There are now fears for Alam’s safety and supporters are calling on the international community to push for his release.
(Click image to go to the project page)
At the time Alam was working on the Bangladesh end of the river Brahmaputra project. He had travelled to Kurigram with two Drik colleagues to take photos, video and stills.
A press release from Drik News quotes:
Dr Shahidul Alam, renowned photographer, founder of Drik and Chief Editor of DrikNEWS— an International News Photo Agency, was detained today (June 16th 2009) at about 5 pm by the members of the Indian Border Security Forces (BSF) while working on the Bangladesh side of the border on one of his National Geographic projects based on Brahmaputra. The BSF guards on duty had first asked him to come over and then detained him at Sahapara across the border from Rowmari. His two colleagues, who were accompanying him, are on the Bangladeshi side of the border and have so far failed to establish any contact with him.
Unheard Voice Blog has the latest:
Shahidul’s mobile was soon handed back to him. He has phoned me to say that he is well, news seems to have gotten through to the BSF post that he should be released, but that procedural matters needed to be completed. Shahidul is being interrogated, a routine matter (conducted by Dhubri thana), and will be released after it is completed. Have heard through friends that BDR (Bangladesh Rifles) has called a flag meeting.
Update from Media Helping Media:
Bangladeshi photojournalist Shahidul Alam has been arrested for the second time in 24 hours, this time by border guards in Bangladesh. The second arrest came hours after Alam was detained and interrogated for six hours by Indian border security guards (BSF).
At 03:00 this morning Alam called colleagues to say he had been arrested again but this time by Bangladeshi border guards (BD).
He was taken to a local police station and a case was filed by SI Amir Ali under the Control Entry Act/4,1978 Bangladesh (case number 6, dtd 17.06.2009). It is understand the charge relates to illegal entry.
Alam then spent the night in custody. He is due to appear at court today, Wednesday 17 June, and is expected to apply for bail.
Image of Shahidul Alam by Ahmed Arup Kamal
(Also published in Global Voices Online)
The Tipaimukh Hydroelectric Project is being constructed near the confluence of Barak and Tuivai rivers, in Manipur, India and within 100km of Bangladesh border. Costing Rs 6,351 crore ($1.35 billion) the 164 meter high dam will have a firm generation capacity of 401.25MW of electricity. While Hydroelectric projects are typically considered greener than other power generation options in short term, it has significant long-term impact to the environment like changes in the ecosystem, destroying nearby settlements and changing habitat conditions of people, fish and wildlife. Especially in the densely populated countries like India and Bangladesh, where rivers are lifelines, projects like Tipaimukh will create adverse effect to a huge number of population and their habitats.
No wonder right from the start this project faced protests from potentially affected people in India, and from the downstream neighbor Bangladesh. The people of Manipur have been fighting legally to stop the project but have so far been unsuccessful. The Indian government is going ahead with the plan. The Sinlung Indigenous People Human Rights Organisation (SIPHRO) of India said that “the process for choosing it (the project premises) ignored both the indigenous people and the recommendations of the WCD (World Commission on Dams)”.
From Bangladesh journalist and blogger Dhibor says:
এই বাঁধ তৈরির কি অজুহাত হিসেবে বলা হচ্ছে, আসামের বন্যা নিয়ন্ত্রন এবং জল বিদ্যুত উৎপাদন করে, উঃ পুর্ব ভারতের মানুষদের প্রভুত কল্যাণে এই বাধ নির্মিত হবে। পাঠকদের জ্ঞাতার্থে জানাচ্ছি যে, আন্তর্জাতিক পানি আইন অনুসারে, ভাটির দেশের পুর্ণ সম্মতি ছাড়া এবং পরিবেশের ক্ষতি করে কোন দেশই একতরফাভাবে নদী শাসন করতে পারবে না। তবে পরিতাপের বিষয় হলো, আন্তর্জাতিক আইন মানতে কোন দেশ বাধ্য নয়। এখানে জোর যার মুল্লুক তার হিসেবেই এই আইন প্রযোজ্য। ভারতের তুলনায় আমাদের অর্থনৈতিক-সামরিক বা খুটির জোর অল্প বলে, আমাদের মার খেয়ে যেতেই হচ্ছে।
উঃ পুর্ব ভারতের অধিবাসিদের নাকের সামনে টিপাইমুখি বাধের মুলো ঝুলিয়ে রাখা হলেও, তারা পঃ বঙ্গের অধিবাসিদের মত ভোলেননি। তাই এই বাধের বিরুদ্ধে সেখানে তীব্র প্রতিবাদ হচ্ছে। মনিপুরের ২০টি প্রভাবশালি সামাজিক রাজনৈতিক সংগঠন, “একশন কমিটি এগেইনস্ট টিপাইমুখ ড্যাম” এর ব্যানারে রাজপথে নেমেছেন। কারণ এতে উঃপুর্ব ভারতের লাভের চেয়ে লোকসানটাই বেশি হবে। আর প্রভুত ক্ষতি হবে পরিবেশের।
It is being said that this dam is being built for the greater interest of the people of North Eastern India by controlling the rivers to prevent flood in the Asam region and producing electricity. An information for the readers: according to international laws, without the consent of the downstream river nation and causing environmental damage no one country can control the multi-nation rivers alone. But the sad fact is that nobody cares for these international laws. The might is always right while interpreting these laws. As Bangladesh is not so powerful like India in economic and military contexts we always are pushed aside. Residents of the North Eastern parts of India were pampered with many baits of the Tipaimukh dam project, but they kept their cool. About 20 influential socio-political organizations in Manipur have united in the banner of “Action Committee against Tipaimukh Project” and are protesting against the project. The reason - this dam will bring more miseries to those people than the profits pledged. And there will be severe damage to the environment.”
From India Namdingpou Kamei at E-Pao lists the losses and destruction this dam will bring to the local people.
# A total area of land 286.20 sq. km will be submerged forever.
# Barak waterfalls and Zeilad Lake, which are connected with the history of the Zeliangrong people, will be forever underwater and all folklores and legends will have no monuments' proof and it will become a make up story for the next generation.
# More than, 40,000 people will be rendered landless.
# Eight villages situated at the Barak Valley will be completely underwater.
# More than 90 villages mostly of Tamenglong district will be adversely affected.
# About 27,242 hectares of cultivable land will be lost. [..]
The Indian government has offered the Manipur state 10% free electricity (i.e. 40 MW) from the project in exchange of above.
The Hmar indigenous population of North East India fears that:
if the government plows ahead with its proposed dam “thousands of outsiders” will come to settle in the area and as a result the Hmars will be exposed to changes like never before to new culture, economy and politics.
Dr. Soibam Ibotombi of Dept. of Earth Sciences, Manipur University says that the dam will be a geo-tectonic blunder of international dimensions:
The site selected for Tipaimukh project is one of the most active in the entire world, recording at least two major earthquakes of 8+ in the Reichter Scale during the past 50 years. The proposed Tipaimukh HEP is envisaged for construction in one of the most geologically unstable area as the proposed Tipaimukh dam axis falls on a ‘fault line’ potentially active and possible epicenter for major earthquakes.
At BanglaPraxis the impact of Tipaimukh dam in Bangladesh has been discussed.
Paribartan Bangla writes [bn] that several campaigns are ongoing in Sylhet, Bangladesh protesting the Tipaimukh dam. The blogger describes:
এই বাঁধ নির্মিত হলে সিলেট, সুনামগঞ্জ, মৌলভীবাজার, হবিগঞ্জ, ব্রাহ্মণবাড়িয়া, কিশোরগঞ্জ, নেত্রকোনা, নরসিংদী ও নারায়ণগঞ্জ জেলাসহ দেশের সমগ্র উত্তর-পূর্বাঞ্চলে মারাত্মক পরিবেশ ও আর্থিক বিপর্যয় নেমে আসবে। কৃষি, মৎস্য, জীববৈচিত্র্য হুমকির মুখে পড়বে। বর্ষাকালে প্রবল বন্যা আর শীতকালে পানির জন্য হাহাকার দেখা দিবে।
If this dam is built then the whole North Eastern Bangladesh, especially Sylhet, Sunamganj, Moulavibazar, Habiganj, Bramhonbaria, Kishoreganj, Netrokona, Norshingdi & Narayanganj districts will face severe environmental and economical consequences. Agriculture, fisheries and wildlife will be under threat. There will be more flood in rainy season and less water in dry season.
Blogger Agami calls other bloggers [bn] to engage in online and offline campaigns to stop the project. A Facebook group has already been created by the bloggers. An online petition has been launched by the “Action Committee against Tipaimukh Project”.
Anandomoye writes [bn]:
উন্নত দেশগুলো যখন স্বল্প ও দীর্ঘমেয়াদি কুফলের কথা বিবেচনা করে বাঁধের মতো অবকাঠামো নির্মাণের মাধ্যমে প্রকৃতিকে নিয়ন্ত্রণের দুর্বুদ্ধি থেকে পিছিয়ে আসছে, সেখানে ভারতের এমন একটি বাঁধ নির্মাণের প্রস্তুতি আরো গভীর পর্যালোচনার দাবি রাখে।
When developed countries are backing out from controlling the nature through infrastructures like building dams, keeping the long term effect on environment in mind, the decision of India to build this dam requires more introspection.
(Map courtesy Abid)
Heatwaves during this time of year is not uncommon for countries in South Asia. But the recent dry weather has kept sufficient rain away from the region keeping the mercury rising. And load shedding (rolling electricity blackouts) due to power crisis in several countries have made the lives of millions of people unbearable.
Last Friday (April 24, 2009) was the hottest day of this summer (with 38.5 Celsius) for Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. The Eastern parts of India is choking as mercury rises above 45 degree Celsius. Several deaths have been reported. Zoo officials in Patna took special measures to protect the animals from heat. There have been reports of forest fire in Nepal, and droughts in the typical rain prone areas.
The netizens are reacting strongly to this situation. Sukanya M writes in the post “United We Sweat” about the heat and the constant power cuts:
Phew. It's been unbearable.
Temperatures ranging around 40, 41, 41.8, and if we are lucky (like today), 39 degrees. Plus Humidity - according to Yahoo it is 84% today (felt like 100%). And of course power cuts everywhere and in a bizarre turn of affairs, Kolkata - Dumdum to Behala had 6-10 hours of power cut on Sunday..[..]
Here are some Twitter messages catching up the mood of common people:
calamur: Melting in the heat . #mumbai is seriously hot .
vitrag: afternoon heat, and boarding the Mumbai trains… damn it fells like stepping in the oven.
Amit Varma at The India Uncut jeers:
It’s so hot in Bombay… … that when I heat food in my microwave, it comes out colder.
In Bangladesh people are suffering badly because of heat wave and frequent rolling blackouts. Most people do not have air-condition at home; they use electric fans, which are useless during power cuts. Those who can afford to use power inverters do not get enough electricity to recharge the units. Worse, there is not enough electricity to run the water pumps. The water crisis has grown acute and people are protesting against the water shortage.
dkhall44: Load shedding now at ridiculous levels in Dhaka. Electricity supply is cut for one hour every other hour. And its *38* degrees.
shahreaz: Working from the evening sounds more realistic in Dhaka. 6 hours of load shedding during the working hours do not make sense.
Typical demand is 2000MW and one day this week we were allocated 1200W, so the shortfall had to be managed.
In Nepal, the power crisis has become a bit better. From an average of 14-16 hour load shedding a day the duration has come down. From Twitter:
zickme: Country facing an Electricity crisis and to over come this Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) has imposed a 12 hrs load shedding each day.
Geshan's blog posts the load shedding schedule of Kathmandu showing the plights of the people.
The residents of Karachi city in Pakistan are facing unannounced power outages of 8 to 10 hour everyday. Pakistan Daily Photo posts pictures of how people are tackling the unbearable heat which is increasing day by day.
South Asia has seen much worse heatwaves than this. But the power crisis has really crippled peoples ability to cope with it. Until the rains bring some respite people will continue to suffer.
From Dhaka, battered by the heat, Blogger Kowshik is sarcastic [bn]:
সরকারের এখন বিদ্যুৎ এর বদলে বৃষ্টি উৎপাদনের চেষ্টা করা উচিতThe government should try to produce rains instead of electricity.
Even if it sounds imprudent, in this situation the people of South Asia cannot ignore this idea.
This was first published in Global Voices Online
The second South Asian Bands festival is taking place at Purana Qila in New Delhi, India. 14 rock bands of South Asia are participating in the event.
Nepali blogger Salik Shah, who is in New Delhi to attend the WordCamp, was at the festival and shares his reactions about the Bangladeshi band Miles among others:
The band that actual stole the show was the Bangladeshi band — Miles. Miles just celebrated their silver anniversary. We could see the reason why they are still going strong. I was at the top of my voice when they sang Shanti noi, Shanti noi.. I understand a lil’bit bangle and could actively indulge in their stellar act. They also covered November Rain and yeah — Rockk On… They surely rocked and left us thrilled!!! They also made us ‘Jump’. JUMP. JUMPPPPPPP!!!! When they asked us to chant “jaaala jaala” (one of Miles’ best), I was wondering “kaahan?” Funnily in Nepali, “jaala” means “will go [somewhere]”…
John Oliver describes in Comedy Central
First published in Global Voices
Recently two advertisements of childrens food products made by Nestlé and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) aired by a Bangladeshi television channel were banned in UK. The Bangladeshi private TV channel NTV (not Nepali TV as some reports claimed) is rebroadcasted from UK to cover 58 countries in Europe and surrounding areas.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) of UK has banned the adverts because they were misleading and inaccurate. The both ads are made by these multinationals for consumers across the South Asian countries including Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. The generic ads are usually made for multiple countries and dubbed in several local languages to be aired by local TV channels.
In the Maggi Noodles (Nestlé) advert, a mother explains to her child: "Maggi is the best because it has essential protein and calcium that help to build strong muscles and bones."
Watch the ad here (in Bangla):
On the other hand the Horlicks (GSK) ad in NTV claimed: "Children have become taller, stronger and sharper. The Horlicks challenge – now proven!"
Sudarshan Banerjee writes at planning-shlanning about a slightly different version of the Horlicks ad aired in Zee Bangla, an Indian regional TV channel:
"The Horlicks Ad would have been banned if it were running on a national channel. Here's how it goes. Scene outside store. Mother and adoloscent child duo - 2 pairs; one Mother's bag showing a refill pack of Complan and the other Mother's bag showing a Horlicks bottle (Both very very CLEARLY - no pixelations, no attempt to hide whatsoever).The truth emerged after both Nestle and GlaxoSmithKline claimed that the ads had been broadcast in the UK without their knowledge or consent. Interestingly GSK said that its claims were accurate for "children in that part of the world" and they complied with the regulatory requirements of Bangladesh. A GlaxoSmithKline spokesman added that the Horlicks sold in India is a completely different formulation and product to the one in the UK.
The spot goes on with the Complan boy saying, my health drink has 23 nutrients, how much does yours have? To which the Horlicks boy's answer is 23 nutrients and also something (eludes me, at the moment).
The Complan boy goes on to say, Mine makes me 'Taller' with the show of measuring up the height on one's shoulder at the Complan ads, the Horlicks boy replies, mine makes me 'Taller, Stronger & Sharper'.
The Complan boy then says, mine costs Rs.178 and the Horlicks boy replies, mine costs only Rs.124 (please pardon if the prices are off by a few rupees). The Complan boy then jubilantly says, Mummy, In this case we are higher right with the Mother making a grimace of I've-been-had kind of look.
The Ad ends with a couple of people carrying a Horlicks billboard with the 3 tenets of Taller, Stronger & Shraper clearly written in the background."
Arif Jebtik from Bangladesh had this to say [bn]:
এ বিষয়ে নেসলে কোম্পানি নাকি একটা ব্যাখ্যাও দিয়েছে । নাহ, তারা ক্ষমা প্রার্থনা করেনি । তারা বলেছে, এসব বিজ্ঞাপন তৈরী করা হয়েছিল বাংলাদেশের মিডিয়ার জন্য, "ভুলক্রমে" যুক্তরাজ্যে প্রচারিত হয়েছে বলে তারা দূ:খিত !!Himu writes in the comments section:
ঠিক আছে নেসলে কোম্পানি । সত্য ভাষনের জন্য আপনাদের অভিনন্দন ।
যাবতীয় ইতরামি এই তৃতীয় বিশ্বের দেশটার সাথেই সবাই করছে , আপনারাও করতে থাকুন ।
"Nestle has given an explanation for this. No, they have not apologized. They said that these ads were made for the media in Bangladesh. They regret that it was broadcast in UK.
Its ok Nestle. Congratulations for telling the truth.
Everybody is doing all these evil things with this third world country. Please continue to do it."
নেসলের কোন প্রোডাক্ট খেয়ে বুদ্ধিশুদ্ধি হলে জানায়েন তো একটু ... একজনকে গিফট করবো ... ।The ASA has ruled that the the products should not be advertised in UK without adequate substantiation for the claims made for it but the reality is that the ads will continue be aired in many South Asian countries.
If you find anybody getting sharper after consuming Nestle's products, please let me know. I will present it to ..someone..
- Bangladesh: Jamaat's charter in clash with country's constitution
- Bangladeshi journalist says govt should conduct checks for workers
- Train travel in Bangladesh
- Bangladesh's Yunus says global financial meltdown to hit poor
- Take industries out of Dhaka
- China to help fund Burma-Bangladesh friendship road
- Why school shootings happen in affluent cultures?
- Islam, Democracy And Violence
- Berlin announces plans for world's largest community electric car infrastructure
- Political parties in Bangladesh ordered to register or face ban
- Bangladeshi workers attacked by ghosts
- A resignation at Grameenphone gets attention
- A change of hearth
- Surf's up, in Bangladesh
- Bangladesh issues 'mercy certificates' to graft-tainted
- Police told to end open defiance
- Run Tata Run
- Political disaster in motion
In recent months radical mobs have attacked Christians and their churches in a number of Indian states. Ayesha Saldanha wrote a deep analysis on the issue in Global Voices:
Right-wing Hindu groups, such as the VHP, its youth wing, the Bajrang Dal, and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) accuse Christian groups of converting Hindus, particularly from lower castes and tribal groups. It is alleged that Hindu activists in Orissa have tried to intimidate Christians to reconvert to Hinduism.The renowned journalist Khushwant Singh explains this conversion business:
To this day, Christian missionaries run the best schools, colleges and hospitals in our country. They are inexpensive and free of corruption. They get converts because of the sense of gratitude they generate. Can this be called forcible conversion? Why donʼt the great champions of Hinduism look within their hearts and find out why so many are disenchanted by their pretensions of piety? Let them first set their own houses in order, purge the caste system out of Hindu society and welcome with open arms all those who wish to join them. No one will then convert from Hinduism to another religion.
Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HuJI) of The Islamic Holy War Movement was formed in 1984 by Fazalur Rehman Khalil and Qari Saifullah Akhtar, as the first Pakistan-based jihadist outfit, during the Soviet-Afghan War.
The Harkat-ul-Jihad-al Islami Bangladesh (HuJI-B) was established in 1992, reportedly with assistance from Osama bin Laden’s International Islamic Front (IIF). On April 30, 1992, several of the HuJI-B leaders addressed a press conference at the Jatiya Press Club in capital Dhaka and demanded that Bangladesh be converted into an Islamic State. It draws inspiration from bin Laden and the erstwhile Taliban regime of Afghanistan. At one point of time, the groups issued a slogan, Amra Sobai Hobo Taliban, Bangla Hobe Afghanistan (We will all become Taliban and we will turn Bangladesh into Afghanistan).
The coastal area stretching from the port city of Chittagong south through Cox's Bazaar to the Myanmarese border, notorious for piracy, smuggling and arms running, is the principal area of activity of the HuJI-B. A large number of volunteers had gone to Afghanistan to fight alongside the Mujahideen in the war against the former Soviet Union.
The HuJI-B is also believed to be having links with Pakistan. For instance, the outfit’s ‘operations commander’ and a key suspect in the plot to assassinate the then Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, in July 2000, Mufti Abdul Hannan, after his arrest in October 2005 admitted to have passed out of the Gouhardanga Madrassa in Pakistan. The HuJI-B’s Pakistani link was further established with the recovery of a diary from Hannan’s brother Matiur Rehman, who was also arrested in connection with the assassination plot. Entries in the diary revealed that he was in touch with Pakistan’s diplomatic mission in Bangladesh.
HuJI-B also maintain links with terrorist groups operating in India’s Northeast, including with the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA). The HuJI-B reportedly managed some of ULFA’s camps situated in the Chittagong Hill Tracts in Bangladesh along the border with the Indian State of Tripura. HUJI-B was also alleged to be involved in numerous terrorist incidents in India.
Three HuJI-B cadres made a failed attempt on the life of poet Shamsur Rahman at his residence in Dhaka on January 18, 1999.
It was involved in a number of incidents, including the killing of journalist Shamsur Rahman, on July 16, 2000, in Jessore. Later, police arrested 10 HuJI-B activists and sealed its office at a Dhaka suburb, Khilgaon, Interrogations revealed that HuJI-B cadres had planned to kill 28 prominent intellectuals, including National Professor Kabir Choudhury, writer Taslima Nasreen and the Director General of the Islamic Foundation, Maulana Abdul Awal. The Bangladesh government banned it in 2005.
Now in a dramatic twist of events media reports say that:
"Leaders of the banned Islamist outfit Harkatul Jihad al Islami (HuJI) in Bangladesh have floated the Islamic Democratic Party (IDP) ahead of the December elections with permission from the caretaker government."And more stunning news was that:
"Last Friday, HuJI, donning the IDP label, held an Iftar party at the city's Diploma Engineers Institution that was attended by party leaders and guests including Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury, editor of Blitz weekly, Human Rights Forum general secretary Sanjeeb Choudhury and Chitta Francis, a representative of the Christian community."What are these resident Zionists of Bangladesh doing?
HuJI official Azizul Huq said Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury and Richard L. Benkin, an American citizen, helped in efforts to portray IDP in a positive light across the globe.Moulana Salam said about Regarding Mufti Hannan that they had expelled him in 1998 and they cannot take responsibility of what he did after that.
In an e-mail to a Daily Star correspondent, Benkin said: "Mr. Huq is correct. Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury and I continuously try to bridge the gulf between religious communities throughout the world and always look for opportunities to promote a positive image of Bangladesh worldwide.
This is a very worrying sign for Bangladesh. Not only that a terrorist outfit is again being given legitimacy, the involvement of people like Richard Benkin and Salah Uddin Shoaib Chowdhury means that they are being supported by a superpower which has a double face in leading a war on terror. This is insane!! I think Bangladesh government should think twice before giving permission to IDP.
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